Symantec CEO addresses Veritas merger

By Ann Silverthorn

Pledging to help IT professionals spend less time fire-fighting and more time finding ways to boost the bottom line, John W. Thompson, CEO of Symantec, remarked on his company's proposed merger with Veritas at last week's Storage Networking World show in Phoenix.

Thompson said the idea for the merger came from listening to customer needs for security and availability. These two needs "must be intertwined if we are to better leverage information to help companies grow into new markets and new services," said Thompson.

Recalling the Slammer worm in January 2003, Thompson said it was a wake-up call for Symantec customers. Slammer doubled its infection rate every 8.5 seconds and caused entire businesses to shut down. Symantec realized that security could no longer be divorced from storage and systems management. Information must be available and secure.

Thompson said if a company's information is not available, it's like putting all of its valuables in a safe . . . and forgetting the combination. On the other hand, if it's available, but not secure, it's like putting all of its trade secrets up on a billboard.

"We need to take a more holistic view of information management," said Thompson. Doing this will build "a solid foundation that can seamlessly bridge the divide between security, device management, storage management, and systems and network management."

The new Symantec intends to produce solutions to protect users, enterprises, and everything in between. Those products will operate on all nearly all platforms at every level of the IT infrastructure.

The combined company promises no hardware agenda, allowing all types of hardware to be integrated with its products.

This merger between two market leaders in security and storage management is designed to marry external insight about threats with internal intelligence about the IT environment. Thompson said this will help customers avert threats without interrupting their businesses.

Looking ahead, Thompson previewed backup and recovery solutions that could offer the following features:

  • Continuous backups at the block or file level--The change of a file name or a single word in a document triggers backup. This allows recovery to the moment before the disruption occurred.
  • Seamless backup and replication--Replication to a fail-over site occurs simultaneously with the backup.
  • End-user recovery--A Google-like search engine on the desktop allows the user to retrieve the desired version of a file.

In a Q & A session after his remarks, Thompson stated that Symantec welcomes competition from the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager, which boasts similar features as those mentioned above and was released in beta form last week.

Ed Gillis, the current CFO of Veritas, heads up the Integration Management Office, which oversees a team of approximately 100 individuals.

Thompson said that since the merger is not driven by synergy, he expects staff reductions to be minimal. In fact, efforts are being made to improve attrition rates in both companies by making sales quotas more realistic.

In addition, efforts will be made to minimize disruption of current sales relationships. In many cases, the CTO of a company has a relationship with a Veritas sales rep and the information security officer has a relationship with a Symantec sales rep. During the transition, it is possible that those relationships would stay in place.

Thompson claimed that the new company will retain the Symantec name while preserving product brands. Asked about future plans, Thompson said, "We are an acquisitive company, and we will continue to be so."

This article was originally published on April 20, 2005